When I started asking food friends what they think makes a great meatloaf, three separate people said ask Chef Stephen Trojahn of Gastrotruck, because his smoked meatloaf sliders are crave-worthy.
So I sent him a note, and he kindly shared the following tips:
1. Start with excellent, grass-fed beef.
2. Test and taste your mixture (by frying off a bit first), and adjust seasoning as needed.
3. If you don’t have a smoker, add a few slices of smoked, finely diced and rendered bacon to the mixture.
4. Let it rest. It’s even better if you let it come to room temperature then chill overnight.
I took those ideas and incorporated them into a recent favorite recipe by Chef Damon Wise. Both Trojahn and Wise endeavor to add layers of flavor to their meatloaf, with Trojahn adding the killer touch of cooking his in a smoker. If you have a smoker, do that!
If you’re not a sauce person, you can skip it and still be happy with a tender, flavorful result. I personally dig the sauce, and add extra cayenne pepper for some heat. Serve the meatloaf as is the day you make it…or save it all for serious sandwiches the next day.
Thank you Chef Trojahn for sharing your tips and recipe.
Adapted from recipes by Damon Wise & Stephen Trojahn
2 slices bacon, finely diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. grass-fed beef
1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs, soaked in milk to cover
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. dried mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add bacon. Saute until bacon is just starting to brown, then remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and reserve. With the skillet and drippings still over medium heat, add onion to the pan and saute until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and set aside to cool.
Place ground beef in a large bowl. Squeeze milk from bread crumbs and add to the beef, along with the Parmesan, mustard, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and eggs. Add reserved bacon and sauteed onion mixture. Using your hands, gently mix the beef mixture.
(Pat out a couple of tablespoons of the mixture and fry it until done–taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. The Parmesan cheese adds a layer of saltiness but can vary widely, so be ready to add a bit more salt if needed.)
Transfer beef to the parchment-lined baking sheet and gently form into a roll, about 12 x 4 inches. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Brush with glaze and continue baking another 15 minutes or internal temperature is 160 degrees. Let meatloaf rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with more sauce.
To rest overnight, cool meatloaf to room temperature, cover, and chill. Slice and fry slices in a skillet until warmed through.
Makes about 1 cup
1 c. ketchup
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or more to taste)
Stir ingredients together in a small bowl.